For directions to the Phelps Creek Trailhead, let me once again (third and last time) shamelessly quote Bob from his Mt. Maude page: "For the Chiwawa River / Phelps Creek / Leroy Creek approach, drive east from Stevens Pass or west from Leavenworth on US Highway 2 and turn north toward Lake Wenatchee [at Coles Corner]. After the Wenatchee River bridge go right at a Y, then drive 1.1 miles on county road 22 and turn left on Chiwawa River forest road number 62. Drive 24 miles to near the end of the road [if you get to Trinity camp, you've gone too far] and turn right on the Phelps Creek road. Drive to the end of this road to the trailhead." The trailhead is at 3,500 ft.
Hike the easy Phelps Creek Trail for 3.5 miles or so to its crossing of Leroy Creek (c. 4,120 ft). Find the well-worn climber's path up the north side of the creek. The path leads up and up steeply then levels off to reach Leroy Creek Basin. There is a large meadow at 6,100 ft about one mile southwest of Seven Fingered Jack that offers good camping and water (maybe four hours to get here from the trailhead with heavy packs). Alternatively, it is possible to climb Fernow in a day from a large camp on the Phelps Creek Trail about a quarter-mile before Leroy Creek is crossed. This avoids the long haul of overnight gear up the hillside, but it's nowhere near as scenic a camp spot.
From the basin at 6,100 ft, climb NNE up the obvious drainage coming down from the west side of Seven Fingered Jack. Continue up to the saddle at ~7,760 ft on the West Ridge 7FJ. From this saddle you will get your first glimpse of Fernow peeking above the long North Ridge of 7FJ. Oh joy, time to lose elevation. It is now required that you descend perhaps 1,000 ft into the head of Big Creek. There is a glacier and a moraine shown on maps but these are not an issue. Crevassing is minimal and avoidable (more like ice sheets) and the moraine is below where you will be traversing. The trick is getting into the basin from the saddle. Some have reported it as being Class 4 but I would rate it as slabby Class 3 (I climbed Fernow in August 1996). I can't remember if I used crampons once I got off rock and onto a snow finger.
You can essentially see where you need to go. You need to cross under the glacier remnant and aim for the broad valley/couloir on the southwest side of Fernow. There are some minor cliffs to negotiate lower down but you can generally see what you need to do (not sure if this would be the case in a whiteout). Continue up the shallow couloir (probably snow-filled) to the ~8,700-ft col immediately south of the peak. I then finished the climb by climbing up and around the east side in a counterclockwise manner (Class 3). Basically, pick the easiest route for you. There may be routes up the southwest face. Expect rocky ribs and loose gullies.
Participants should have prior experience on class 3 rock, especially loose rock. Preference given to Everett students until 8/7/2014
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